“Wow! These guys are some world class players and singers. I saw the Brothers at the Arlington Theater in the 70’s, Man they blew me away… Blue eyed soul and its best. These guys groove, they still send chills down my spine. It’s music played from the heart.” – Fan
“They won’t make music even close to this again in our life time.” – Fan
“The Faragher Brothers were my studio songbirds.” – Vini Poncia, producer
“We were the Osmonds’ evil twins.” – Davey Faragher
What a sound! The groove is undeniable. Don’t let the blue eyes and long blond hair throw you; these brothers had soul! From their sweet ballad harmonizing, to their uptown soul shouting, they could do it all. With roots that went back deep into the gospel, R&B and Blues of the Fifties and Sixties, the Faragher Bros. were the real thing. Although they never achieved the success they deserved, the music is timeless, and still resonates. Their recording legacy includes four albums (The first, entitled “The Faragher Brothers”, or simply “The Yellow Album” has become a cult classic), and seven singles, including the hit “Stay the Night”. Able to recreate live on stage the sophisticated sound of their records, the Faragher Brothers were always an exciting concert act.
The members were: Danny, Jimmy, Tommy, and Davey Faragher; all brothers in real life. The two older siblings had cut their musical teeth singing gospel, and early rock and roll, and had been creating music together for ten years as part of three bands: the Mark V, the Peppermint Trolley Co., and Bones. Danny and Jimmy had eight years of recording experience when they reinvented themselves once again, inviting their younger brothers to join them in creating a new band. Tommy and Davey had been serious about music for a while. They led a group, the Pelicans, in which they were experimenting with R&B. Tommy was rapidly becoming a great piano player, and an exciting lead singer, and had been writing songs for a couple of years, while Davey was already a groove monster on the bass. All four of them shared a passion for the R&B of the Sixties… The Memphis sounds of singers like Otis Redding, and Wilson Picket; the Chicago group sound of the Impressions and the Dells… and the Motown acts like the Four Tops and the Temptations. Their ears were also tuned to the contemporary Soul music emerging in the early Seventies: Funk Rock groups like War, the Ohio Players, and early Earth, Wind and Fire; the Philadelphia sounds of the Ojays and the Spinners; and the groundbreaking works of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Al Green.
Throughout late 1973 and early 1974 the brothers rehearsed every week-end in the basement at their parents’ Victorian home in Redlands, honing their sound. Danny played a Hammond B3; Tommy, a Fender Rhodes, Patrick McClure (the Peppermint Trolley Co., and Bones) filled in on the guitar. Jimmy handed the bass chair to Davey to play percussion and rhythm guitar. In addition, both he and Danny got reacquainted with their jazz roots, adding trombone and sax to the mix, while Tommy played the flute. There would be a rotation of different drummers for years to come (Until younger brother, Marty joined the band in ’78). Some of the songs which would appear on the first album were fleshed out in the cramped space of that basement in that first year.
Danny, who was still located in the L.A. area, got on the horn to Vini Poncia, who had produced the second Bones LP, “Waitin’ Here”, and to Richard Perry, the executive producer (Perry himself had produced Bones’ first album). “I thought we were on to something new and exciting, and kept trying to light a fire.” Poncia liked what he heard, and after capturing the sound on demo, helped the Faragher Brothers get a contract with Perry’s production company. Richard landed the Faraghers a two album deal with ABC Records. The brothers relocated to the L.A. area, and drummer John King was hired to play on the record.
Throughout 1975 they worked on the album, Jimmy and Tommy writing together, and the band rehearsing, and recording. McClure played on four of the tracks, before he and the Faraghers parted company. The guitar chair was then filled by several fine musicians: Johnny Vastano, David Hines, David Wolfert, Ted Arighi, and Chuck Crewes. Tom Saviano, reeds, and Rich Felts, trumpet and flugelhorn, were brought in to join Danny, who played trombone, as the horn section; Danny writing most of the charts. Future film composer, James Newton Howard, who at the time was a member of Melissa Manchester’s band, programmed and played string synthesizer on “Never Get Your Love Behind Me”. Lenny Castro, also in Melissa’s band, played the percussion parts.
(Danny) – “We felt our music was ahead of its time, but it seemed like it was taking forever to get the project on its feet.” Richard was producing Ringo Starr and Martha Reeves (Danny played on both of the records), and Vini was busy producing Melissa Manchester (The Brothers sang back–up on her next two albums). Consequently, there was a lot of time between sessions. “In the meantime The Average White Band, who were on to something similar, released their smash album, beating us to the punch.”
By early ’76, the album, produced by Vini Poncia, and engineered by Bobby Schaper, was mixed, mastered and ready for pressing. Cover photos were taken with Norman Seeff, and the record released that spring. Upon hearing the record, no one could deny the magic in the grooves. From the driving urgency of “Best Years of my Life” to the jazzy coolness of “I Never Felt Love Before”; from the beautifully sad “I’ll Never Get Your Love Behind Me” to the funk propelled “Give It Up”…the Faraghers were ‘in the pocket’. The band’s remake of “It’s Alright”, a tip of the hat to Curtis Mayfield, was chosen as the first single. It became apparent, however, that ABC had no strategy for selling the band. The label was confused, and thus, unfortunately, the public became confused. (Davey) – “We sounded like the Spinners, and looked like the Allman Brothers…Now that’s a marketer’s dream!” (Danny) – “Here we’d spent years creating this timeless jewel of a record, only to watch it die on the vine. It broke my heart.”
“The Faragher Brothers” did manage to sell in some small regional pockets, like Santa Barbara, California, where the record got airplay, and where the band performed in concert to sold – out audiences. The brothers were considered stars by this young and mostly Latino audience. . The music was also popular in Chicago’s “Steppers Clubs”.
The Faragher Brothers appeared on “Soul Train” (the first white band to do so), and opened for Chaka Kahn and Rufus at the Roxy. That summer they made a six week tour of the Eastern Seaboard, playing clubs and small concert halls with acts like Tower of Power, and Vicki Sue Robinson. Although they never failed to excite the audience and gain new fans, the tour was stressful, as the band discovered they were being ripped off by their then current manager.
In the fall, they recorded their second album for ABC. Vini Poncia and Richard Perry had had a falling out, and Perry urged the Faraghers to go with the production team of Kenny Kerner and Ritchie Wise, who had produced “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips. Studio cats were hired to augment the sound: Michael Baird on drums, Ben Benay and Jay Graydon, guitars; Alan Estes, percussion, and the Dr. John horn section (With Danny on trombone). The record – “Family Ties” – has some good moments on it… the beautiful “Follow My Heart”, the dreamy romanticism of “I’m Waking Up”; “You Know That”, with its street corner harmonies; and the gritty Memphis soul shouting of “Don’t I Know It”. (Danny) – “’Family Ties’ is a good album, but I’d be lying if I said we weren’t disappointed. It didn’t have the magic of the ‘Yellow Album’. But then… what could?” Sister Patsy Faragher won a design award for her wonderful cover art work… a photo of a picture she crafted on a satin pillow. There was little action on the singles, “Thanks A Lot/You Know That” or “Follow My Heart/I’m Wakin’ Up”, and the album did not catch fire. Neither ABC, nor Richard Perry Productions chose to renew their options, and the Faraghers were left without a label, and without management. It was back to square one.
For the rest of 1977 the Faragher Bros. augmented by two fine side men, drummer Andy Dworkin and guitarist, Trey Stone, played clubs and local concerts, including a memorable date at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, sharing the bill with Lee Michaels. (Danny) “We were treated like superstars. Oh, it felt so good to be appreciated.” They also opened for a three day run with Jimmy Webb at the Troubadour and stole the show. Danny had known Webb in college when they were both first year music majors. “At the end of the gig I finally got a chance to chat with Jimmy. He hadn’t caught any of our sets. Our conversation consisted of me listening and Jimmy doing the talking.” During this time the band also played some fancy dance clubs, like Dillon’s in Westwood. “It was the disco era and people wanted to dance to that four on the floor beat and hear the familiar tunes. It was the first time we’d ever worked up so much cover material.”
In the winter of 1978 the Faraghers got a creative second wind, and began a rigorous schedule of writing and rehearsing. Davey was sharing a house with some people in Alta Dena, and opened up the basement for the band to rehearse. (Danny) – “There’s something about a basement…” Baby brother Marty, only fifteen, but already a monster on drums joined the band. “The combination of Marty and Davey gave us one of the best rhythm sections in the business.” The magic was back. With the help of sound engineer, Leslie Jones, daughter of Spike Jones, they laid down some demos, including Jimmy and Tommy’s latest tune, “Stay the Night”. The demos helped secure them a deal with the international label, Polydor. They were back in business; a signed act.
That spring they cut the album “Open Your Eyes”, reuniting with producer Vini Poncia, and engineer, Bobby Schaper. They stretched out a bit, exploring their varied roots, which, in addition to R&B, included the Beatle’s Music, Reggae, Classic Rock, and Fifties Doo Wop. They were able to come up with a sound that is at once timeless, yet current. With the addition of sister, Pammy, a female voice was brought into the mix. Danny stepped up as a songwriter, and his harmonica playing was featured. (Danny) – “Recording the album was the most fun we’d had in a long time. We were all supportive of one another; all on the same page.”
Everyone involved was pleased with the results. The tracks really popped. And the vocal harmonies were sophisticated, but full of energy. Stand–outs were…the title song ”Open Your Eyes”, a retro nod to the Girl Group sound performed with a contemporary feel… “Stay the Night” with its bouncy shuffle groove and its ‘wink of an eye’ lyrics… “Long Hard Climb”, a Reggae influenced commentary on the heartaches of trying to make it in the music business… the melodic but driving “Nothing to Lose … the heart felt soul ballad “Silver to Gold”, with its Procal Harem type organ intro… and “Find a Love of My Own”, in which the lead goes from hot to cool to hotter yet.
Shortly after the sessions the Brothers sang on Lynda Carter’s album. The actress, who played TV’s “Wonder Woman” was about to open in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. She loved the four part harmony of the Faraghers and asked them to back her up. The act played in Denver, and at Harrah’s in Reno, before coming into Caesar’s. The work put a little bread in the guy’s pockets.
By the end of the summer, the album was mixed, and the artwork done. The cover featured a photo portrait, shot by Aaron Rapaport, of the four (similar to “Meet the Beatles”). Polydor scheduled a release date for the next spring. (Danny) – “We didn’t understand why they couldn’t get the record out sooner. In the meantime, we were all scrambling to make a living, and trying to stay creative.” The album came out in March of 1979. The single “Stay the Night” got airplay, and began climbing the charts with a bullet. The Faragher Brothers (with Pammy and Marty) performed “Stay the Night” and “Open Your Eyes” on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, and were well received. They also cut a video, not the norm in those pre MTV days. In the video, the band performs the two songs (Check it out on You Tube). The Faraghers were also slated to do a live performance on the “Mike Douglas Show”, a popular television variety show. Marty was still underage, however, and the logistics of having a tutor on the set couldn’t be worked out. The band was scratched at the last minute. (Danny) – “Our equipment was set up on the soundstage, we’d run through the numbers, and were really sounding tight. It’s too bad. It would have documented what a great live act we were.”
Although ‘Stay the Night” was a top forty hit, the album failed to chart. (Danny) “It was a crazy time for popular music… the country was in recession, and the labels suddenly had their eyes glued on the bottom line… Disco and its cookie cutter sameness had peaked, and there was a backlash against it by the hard rock camp (with homophobic and racist undertones motivating some, in my opinion)… Punk and what was being called New Wave were coming to the fore. The record labels were in the dark as to where pop music was going, and I think our music just got lost in the confusion.”
That summer The Faragher Brothers recorded one more LP. There were differences of opinion as to what direction to go in. Initially, they’d gotten pressure from upstairs to move in a more dance music direction. Then, after Disco’s quick collapse, those same forces couldn’t run away from the genre fast enough. In addition, Tommy and Davey were embracing some of the newer music that was appearing on the scene. The album thus became a kind of compromise of styles…One minute the band is soulful, the next hard rocking, at other times the group tosses out a song with a flippant sense of irony. (Danny) – “We were doing this, trying that, hoping something would stick. I think we all sensed that this was the Last Hurrah… that we’d probably become a tax write off for the label.” Pammy and Marty were now full members; Pammy singing lead along with Jimmy, Tommy, and Danny. The versatile guitarist Pete McCrae was brought in. As always, the writing is good, the vocals spot on, and the playing “in the groove.”
The album is called “The Faraghers”, produced by Vini Poncia, and engineered by Bobby Schaper. The stand-out tracks are… “Say When”, which Jimmy had just written. An exuberant rocker with a New Wave attitude (Like the Knack’s “My Sharona”), it finds Jimmy singing with a teenage energy and intensity… Tommy’s and Jimmy’s “It’s About Time”, another rock and rollin’ number with great lead from Tommy… Danny’s “Primal” a dark spooky blues drenched groove (Think Muddy Waters/Willie Dixon), with a danceable beat, and featuring Danny’s dark cave man vocal, a scorching harp solo, a hypnotic bass groove from Davey, and Marty’s wildest ever timbale fills. Incidentally, the vocal and the track were recorded live… Tommy’s “Stop the Parade”, an interesting melody with clever lyrics, a breathy, vulnerable lead from Pammy, and great harmonizing in the background.
The album cover is hip and features a lightning bolt letter (“F”) emanating light in a dark and narrow alley. Davey (wearing shades), is lurking in the shadows. It’s a real shot, not a composite. The logo sculpture was designed by Patricia Faragher, and the photo was taken by David Alexander.
That fall the Faraghers, with the addition of lead guitarist Steve Dudas, played all the happening clubs on the L.A. scene, including Madame Wong’s, the Hong Kong Bar, and the Starwood. Wherever they appeared the group always caused a stir, and was well received. An original band can’t make a living playing local clubs, however, and with the option not being renewed by Polydor, the writing was on the wall. Shortly before the new decade began, the members called it quits, and went their separate ways. The Faragher Brothers had been a unit for six years.
(Danny) – “It was a hard time. There was plenty of disappointment to go around. For me personally…I had been in a band since I was thirteen (Nineteen years!), and it took me a couple of years to adjust to being a civilian.”
Music is still a vital part of all the Faragher siblings’ lives. Jimmy has created a rock musical about the Sixties entitled “All Fall Down” (Jimmy, along with Danny and Pammy can be seen performing a song from the show, “Stop the War” on You Tube). Danny has been involved in a variety of musical projects over the years, including vocal work for TV, and writes and teaches (See bio). Tommy has written and produced hits, and is directing videos, along with teaching. Davey has had steady success as a bass player. He was in the rock group, “Cracker”, and has been a member of Elvis Costello’s band for over a decade. Marty is still a great drummer, and in demand on the Tulsa scene. Pammy still has the pipes, and can often be heard fronting a band, and knocking ‘em dead.
In 2000, Sony Japan reissued the Faragher Brothers two ABC albums…”The Faragher Brothers”, and “Family Ties”. The CD’s quickly sold out, and both have become collectors’ items. More and more people are discovering the band’s soulful and polished sound and becoming fans.